October 2021 #4 – Polish Lutherans vote for female priests

News in brief.

Polish Lutherans vote to ordain women. The Synod of the Lutheran Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland (ECACP) has voted to allow women to be ordained as pastors. In a previous vote in 2016 there was a majority of support in favour of women’s ordination but it fell short of the two-thirds majority required to enact the change to church law. 

Hunger strike highlights plight of refugees. Jesuit priest Philippe Demeestère has been on hunger strike for a week at St Peter’s church in Calais, with the aim of highlighting the plight of refugees in the area. He has been working in the area since 2016, and notes that treatment of migrants has become harsher since the breaking up of the “Calais Jungle”; 300 migrants have died during this period. 

Prayers for La Palma. Roman Catholics in La Palma, Spain have held a church service and procession to pray for an end to the eruptions of the Cumbre Vieja volcano. Worshipers carried a large statue of “The Virgen del Pino (Our Lady of the Pine) during the procession. Around 800 hectares of land have been engulfed by lava, destroying approximately 2000 buildings. 

Pres. Biden to meet with the Pope. On 29 October, US President Joe Biden will meet with the pope. They are scheduled to discuss “​​working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor”.

Spotlight on Lille.

Lille Cathedral (Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille) (Pl. Gilleson). After the original main Roman Catholic cathedral in Lille, the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, was destroyed during the French Revolution, plans emerged in the 1850s for an ambitious new cathedral to serve the city and its growing population. Building began in 1854 and continued in several phases, until finally being completed in 1999, when the modernist facade was added. The cathedral was built with the intention of housing a statue of the Virgin Mary, known as Our Lady of the Treille, which was associated with several miracles in the middle ages, including the healing of 53 “invalids”.

Église Saint-Maurice de Lille (Parv. Saint-Maurice). A Gothic-style hall church, it houses an impressive collection of stained glass windows, including one of  the few in France to depict Saint Charles de Foucauld.

While the church had its origins in the fourteenth  century, being added to over the centuries, it was renovated and given a coherent and striking look in the eighteenth century by Lille architect Philippe Cannissié. The church also contains paintings by the Bruges master painter Jacques Van Oost dit le Jeune. 

Christ Church Anglican Church (14 rue Lydéric). Lille had by the nineteenth century a sizeable English community and in the 1870s funds were raised for the building of an Anglican chapel and the appointment of an Anglican priest. The small church was built in a modern Gothic style, but has features that are not out of place in English churches of this period. The Anglican church works with the Eglise Protestante Unie de France in Lille on several joint outreach projects. 

Saints of the week: Crispin and Crispinian.

Saints Crispin and Crispinian

Next week sees the commemoration in the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England of the saints Crispin and Crispinian. These early Christian martyrs were twin brothers who worked as cobblers in the French town of Soissons. They preached the gospel and provided assistance to the poor, but soon attracted unwelcome attention from the Roman authorities, ruled at this time by emperor Diocletian, who had begun his ruthless persecution of Christians. After their martyrdom, Crispin and Crispinian became popular figures in Christian folklore across Europe – notably they became associated with the battle of Agincourt, which took place on St Crispin’s day, and was immortalised by King Henry’s “St Crispin’s Day” speech in Shakespeare’s Henry V. In the famous speech to the outnumbered English forces, Henry V alluded to a massacre perpetrated by French troops in Soissons during the Hundred Years war, saying he would avenge Soisson in the names of the saints. Crispin and Crispinian are associated with leather workers, and for part of the nineteenth century, the Order of the Knights of St Crispin was an American labor union of shoe workers. 

Picture credits. Die Heiligen Crispinus und Crispinianus – Photothek des Zentralinstituts für Kunstgeschichte | Photo of Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille by Diane Picchiot | graphic design by European Churches Chronicle.

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